Judge again blocks Arkansas from enforcing new abortion limit: media
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[August 07, 2019]
(Reuters) - A federal judge late on
Tuesday again blocked Arkansas from enforcing a new ban on abortions
after 18 weeks of pregnancy, a law that had been expected to go into
effect on Wednesday after a previous judicial block expired, CNN and
other media reported.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker of the Eastern District of Arkansas
granted a temporary reprieve for two weeks until Aug. 20, blocking the
state from enforcing that ban and other restrictions.
The restrictions would also require that only Arkansas-licensed
physicians who are board-certified or board eligible in obstetrics and
gynecology may perform abortions.
Abortion rights advocates said the ban would sharply reduce the number
of medical doctors allowed to perform the abortions in the state.
Abortion is one of the most divisive social issues in the United States,
with opponents often citing religious beliefs to call it immoral while
advocates say limiting access to it infringes on women's rights to
control their bodies.
"The record at this stage of the proceedings indicates that Arkansas
women seeking abortions face an imminent threat to their constitutional
rights," Baker wrote in her original 159-page blocking order issued on
Tuesday's injunction gives the judge more time to consider a final
disposition. Neither court nor state officials could immediately be
reached outside of regular business hours.
If the law goes into effect, it would likely close Arkansas's only
remaining abortion clinic, Fox News and other news media reported.
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Arkansas is among a wave of Republican-controlled U.S. states that
have passed new restrictions on abortion.
Some of these measures -- including Alabama's outright ban making no
exceptions for rape or incest -- are aimed at prompting the newly
enshrined 5-4 conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court to
overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that upheld a woman's right
to terminate her pregnancy.
The Roe v. Wade decision allows for states to place restrictions on
abortion from the time a fetus could viably survive outside the
womb, except in cases where the woman’s health is at risk.
State vary on the number of weeks allowed. In Arkansas, it had been
20 weeks, in most cases.
Abortion rights advocates, including the American Civil Liberties
Union of Arkansas, who filed the suit in June, have said they want
seek to make the injunction permanent.
Arkansas officials say the law was created to better protect
(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Alison Williams)
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